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California Sheriff Office Had Opportunity to Save a Girl and She Was Shot Instead

On September 27, 2022, the San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputies Office was searching for Savannah Graziano, who had been allegedly abducted by her father Anthony Graziano. Anthony had allegedly shot Tracy Martinez, Savannah’s mother, the day before.  

Deputies cornered Anthony’s vehicle on a freeway 80 miles east of Los Angeles. As Savannah exited the vehicle, deputies opened fire. Savannah was killed. Sheriff’s officials claimed after the shooting that it was unclear whether Savannah was shot by deputies or her father and claimed they didn’t realize it was Savannah when she exited the vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office also claimed she was wearing “tactical gear and a helmet.”  

For nearly two years, the Sheriff’s Office refused to release the video of the shooting. At the end of March 2024 though, the department finally released a dozen video files. The videos show two deputies shooting at Savannah as she followed instructions from another deputy to move towards them. Officers can be heard in the videos remarking that it was a girl leaving the car and then another officer telling his colleagues to stop shooting. The video does not clearly show what Savannah was wearing. Both Savannah and Anthony were killed during the incident.  

Just last month, the San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputies Office was accused of killing Ryan Gainer, an autistic 15 year old boy.  

Police SUV and CarLegal Cause of Death  

The Sheriffs had an excellent opportunity to pull a public relations victory. A young girl was in danger, being held hostage, and the sheriffs could have rescued her. Law enforcement could have come out of this episode as heroes. Instead, some sheriffs pulled the trigger and now a young girl is dead. Worst yet, it looks like the Sheriff’s Office lied about it for a couple of years as the video clearly shows a different version of events to what the officers claim had occurred.  

Of course, the Sheriffs will point to Anthony Graziano as the ultimate reason his daughter is now gone. In many cases, if a victim dies while law enforcement are battling the alleged criminals who created the circumstances, the alleged criminals are usually the ones most guilty for the deaths. Savannah Graziano would never have been on that highway if her own father hadn’t put her in danger.  

While the shots were likely a mistake, such shootings are becoming increasingly and disturbingly common. By all accounts, this was not even the first mistaken shooting by the San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputies Office. Any other entity that had a history of similar incidents could expect to pay quite a bit in a lawsuit, whether from a judgment or a settlement.  

While Savannah’s father arguably put her in jail, it has not been proven in a courtroom that he actually killed Tracy Martinez. Since both Savannah and Anthony are gone now, it is unlikely that Anthony’s guilt can be established. Moreover, the officers had an opportunity to save Savannah despite Anthony’s own alleged actions. Her father might have put her in danger, but that doesn’t alter whether the officers could be liable for their own negligence.  

Do I Need the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney? 

If you have sustained a personal injury through the unlawful act of another, then you should contact a personal injury attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer near you can review the facts of your case, go over your rights and options, and represent you at hearings and in court. 


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